Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fleming's Steakhouse Dunwoody Perimeter Atlanta

Earlier this week I dined at Fleming's Steakhouse in Dunwoody and as expected, everything was excellent.  Fleming's is a place I normally go to with business clients as the atmosphere is perfect for a meal and a meeting.  But to my fellow residents of Dunwoody, Fleming's is more than a businessman's locale - it's great for an outing with your spouse and neighbors.

Located in the PCID (Perimeter Mall area) by Target, it's a short and easy drive for everyone in the Greater Dunwoody region (Greater Dunwoody = north Brookhaven, north and west Sandy Springs, and of course Dunwoody).

What first caught my eye was the current bar special promotion.  I call it Happy Hour, but Fleming's calls it the '5 for $6 Til 7' deal.  I'll break that down for you:

1.  Visit Fleming's after work 

2.  Choose 1 of 5 special cocktails for $6 each, or 1 of 5 special wines by the glass for $6 each, or enjoy 2 Shock Top Wheat I.P.A beers for $6 (of course I purchased  a bottle of their Hefeweizen beer)

3.  Choose a 1 or 2 or 3 of the 5 special appetizers, $6 each
cold, refreshing, beer

TROPICAL MARTINI, Malibu Coconut Rum
POMTINI, Smirnoff Vodka
*TICKLED PINK, Belvedere Vodka

PINOT GRIGIO BLEND, Borealis, Oregon
SAUVIGNON BLANC, Terranoble, Chile
PINOT NOIR, ViƱa Leyda, Chile
MERLOT, Red Diamond, Washington
CABERNET, 14 Hands, Washington


Each Selection $6. Served Nightly Until 7PM.

SHOCK TOP WHEAT I.P.A., 2 for $6
Jerry Sinatra (l) and Chef Partner Kenneth Bills

Of course you can choose different appetizers from their Bar la Carte menu.  The bar area is very nice and a nice change of pace from the watering holes we frequent in the Dunwoody Village area.  I like the outdoor patio bar/dining area.  They have lots of seating and some flat screen TVs.  

 Pictured above is (top) Filet Mignon flat bread, my personal favorite appetizer.  Also shown is their Cedar Roasted Mushroom & Artichoke flat bread

Housemade Burrate (charred grape tomatoes, wild arugula, garlic crostinis
Salt & Pepper Shrimp
 Living in Dunwoody we are fortunate to be surrounded by so many great dining options.  Fleming's is a great option for your group when looking for a nice place to relax and have a drink and some food.  Chef Kenneth does a great job keeping hungry folks happy.  I recommend Fleming's not only for that business dinner, but also a guys/gals night out.  Say hello to Jerry and Chef Kenneth on your next visit.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Dunwoody Crier Article on Property Tax Problems

More than 700 homes in N. DeKalb mistakenly overvalued, see if your home is listed 


Go HERE to read the story

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dunwoody Swim Teams Week 3

A nice night on Tuesday.  The rain and thunder stayed away allowing nearly everyone to get in a full meet this week.  Nothing worse that trying to arrange a make-up date for a swim meet.  Aside from all the needed lineup changes, you have to also create new parent volunteer sheets.  Most teams opt for a draw where each team gets a win.  I can think of one or two team captains who would insist on a make-up - you know who they are.

Monday night the rain and thunder did not stay away.  A rare Monday night meet between Redfield and Dunwoody Country Club was called a 200-200 tie, with each team getting a win.  The DJ at Vermack has now been dropped to #2 in rankings of local pool DJs as the DCC DJ moves up to the #1 spot.  He kept the beats coming, even through the rain.

Speaking of Vermack, they lost to Chastain 473-323.  Chastain may be the largest swim team in the metro area.  They have Michael Phelps as a full-time consultant.  Part of the success is their parking strategy.  They block off all parking within 4.3 miles, requiring visiting teams to park in the Dumbo lot.  No MARTA bus in the area so Vermack swimmers had to walk about five miles, carrying their parents'  chairs and coolers.  Although they lost, Vermack maintains #1 ranking among the Dunwoody teams.

As we discussed before, scheduling is based on a team's performance the prior year. Teams move up and down each year, and the schedule changes a bit.   Being a 'super-club'  (a team with a lot of swimmers and a lot of winning) has advantages and disadvantages.  The upside is of course knowing you have a great group of swimmers who win.  You compete at the highest level (for summer swim) and many kids thrive on that feeling.  The younger and new swimmers get to see talented kids every meet and learn from the experienced swimmers.  They swim side by side with great swimmers and work hard to get better.  The downside is the travel and unfamiliar opposing teams. Take Vermack for example.  Vermack drives to Hanover West and Chastain, and swims against Roxboro.  I have no idea where Hanover West and Roxboro are located, and I'm sure my kids don't have any friends at any of those three places. Of course some parents prefer to compete against the best teams
 and like the travel and seeing new faces.

Then look at a schedule like Redfield.  They compete this year against Vermack, Wynterhall, Dunwoody CC, Kingsley, and The Branches.  That's a parent's dream.  No travel outside the Greater Dunwoody area (Sandy Springs / Dunwoody).  Your nearly guaranteed to know a few families at every meet.  There are 24 teams in the ASA South Division, about nine here in Dunwoody.

Mill Glen defeated Wynterhall this week in one of our local rivalries.  The kids love playing on that hillside at Wynterhall.  Just make sure to get your towels and flip flops when the meet is over, before the man with the gas powered blower takes charge.

Georgetown, our #2 ranked Dunwoody team, took care of Dunwoody North 454-342.  Georgetown keeps their #2 ranking while Dunwoody North drops out of the Top Five for the first time this season.

Village Mill had a nice night and defeated Fontainebleau 393-384. Tight meet for sure.  A couple of races made the difference.

Next week we have Village Mill hosting Dunwoody North. Kingsley visits Redfield.  Vermack plays host to Roxboro.  Mill Glen makes the drive to Huntcliff.  This will be a very tough meet for Mill Glen.

324Zaban (TUE 6-12)atCC of Roswell 468
323VermackatChastain Park473
341Deerbrooke WatersatDeerfield-Spaulding Lake363
200RedfieldatDunwoody CC200
454GeorgetownatDunwoody North342
391Hampton Hall-SatGainsborough398
454Garden HillsatHanover West 336
358HuntcliffatHuntley Hills411
373The BranchesatRoxboro419
384FontainebleauatVillage Mill393
448Mill GlenatWynterhall331

Week 3 Dunwoody Rankings
#1 Vermack
#2 Georgetown
#3 Mill Glen
#4 The Branches
#5 Redfield

On a side note, the City of Dunwoody's Parks and Recreation committee is meeting to discuss Project WaterWorld. No Kevin Costner in this project, sorry.  Instead of a tattoo map on the back of a girl, the star is a boy with "Eat My Bubbles" written with a Costco Sharpie in large font on both legs, his back, and his stomach. 

Project Waterworld is new, but I do have permission to break the story here.  The city is in negotiations to buy the old school on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.  Here WE will build a community swimming pool (Olympic size), a few kiddie pools, and perhaps some of those irritating fountain things like they have at the Olympic Park (similar to the failed fountain project for the Nature Center).  We will then establish the Swim Association of Dunwoody (aka SAD).  SAD will be a new swim league, including all swim teams from Dunwoody.  We'll even let The Branches and DCC join, since Dunwoody residents use Sandy Springs facilities for nearly every other youth activity know to Man.

John Wieland Homes will build the pool and some age-restricted condos poolside. We'll bring in a bunch of life guards (with minimal English speaking skills) from eastern Europe and put them up, about eight per unit, in some apartments over at Dunwoody Crossing. The city prefers to hire its employees from outside of Dunwoody so the guys and gals from Ukraine and Bulgaria are welcome to join us.

Side Note:  A 'Food Desert' is a new term to describe a place where private businesses have decided to not invest shareholder funds to build grocery stores.  This decision is based on simple economics, nothing more.  Like the fine folks of sub-Saharan Africa: Live in a desert,.... and you'll most likely always be in need of food and water.  Anyway, a new term for the DunwoodyTalk dictionary (available at Amazon), the Park Desert.  I'm arranging for UNICEF and the United Way to start airing late-night commercials asking for $2 a month to help the children of Dunwoody.  For only $2 a month you can build sports fields in Georgia's largest Park-Desert (save the emails, Brook Run is not a park, it's a land set aside with space reserved for dogs and skaters)

SAD will host all the swim meets Monday through Friday.  Ten teams in the league.  We'll hire the DJ away from DCC and wagering will be permitted.  The city will establish a gambling license to the Dunwoody Womans Club and all bets will be taxed at 5%, with proceeds going toward pool expenses. The pool will have eight lanes and one of those new saltwater filters, and cool diving boards like at Vermack and The Branches.

The city will also create DAD, the Dive Association of Dunwoody. The dive meets will be on the same day as your team's swim meet, but earlier in the day.  Most swim kids can't keep their mouth closed during a dive meet, so the meets need to be an hour apart.

The pool will have a SnackShack, complete with growlers of beer, pasta, lots of sugary candies, and a gift shop with a complete offering of Magic Elves, Threddies, and a cyber lounge for kids to upload images to Instagram.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

John Wieland to Discuss New Dunwoody Project


To: Neighbors

Date: May 29, 2012

Re: Neighborhood Meeting Regarding Proposed Development near Chamblee Dunwoody Rd. and North Shallowford Rd.

Dear Neighbor:

We represent John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods. We plan to file an application to rezone 35 acres of land to a Planned Development (PD) district.  19 acres located at 4575 Shallowford Road , 2030 Pershonal Court, 0000 Pershonal Court, 4555 Shallowford Road, 4553 Shallowford Road are currently zoned O-I, and 16 acres located at 4000 Dunwoody Park are currently zoned RM-HD. The rezoning to a PD will allow for the development of for sale residential housing, city park space and future commercial uses. We are contacting you as property owners within the immediate area to invite you to attend a community meeting to hear more about the proposed development and offer input. The meeting will be held on June, 18 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the Dunwoody Public Library – 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, Ga.

We look forward to seeing you then.

Thank you,

Bryan Musolf
John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Father's Day at Flemings Dunwoody

Thinking about a place to take dad on Father's Day this Sunday?  I recommend Fleming's in Dunwoody (down by Super Target by Perimeter Mall)  $34.95 for mom and dad, $16.95 for the kids, special brunch menu from 11:30 AM to 3 PM.

DeKalb School System and AdvancED and Texas Education Agency

At a recent school board meeting we heard the financial problem with our county school system is even worse than expected.  The Board was prepared to deal with $60 million in cuts, but now they need to cut an additional $12 million.  The bad news was delivered by new Finance  Chief Michael Perrone.  So far I think Perrone has been a good hire.  I hope he sticks around.

The AJC has a story on the DeKalb financial situation HERE. That Ty guy at the AJC has it easy finding stories here in DeKalb.  What a juicy territory he has - keep the stories coming, Ty.

In the article we have a quote from State Senator Fran Millar:

"This is nuts," said state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody. "And next year’s not going to be any better. If they don’t rebuild the surplus, I’ll talk to SACS." Millar said the school system should cut teacher pay instead of raising taxes.
I like Fran, but I think this reaction is not the right one.  First off, SACS does not care about the taxpayer in DeKalb.  In fact, SACS, it seems at times, does not care about the students in DeKalb. SACS has accredited DeKalb Schools for many years now.  During these years we have seen student achievement decline rapidly, we've seen the number of failing schools increase, we've seen extreme fraud and waste of taxpayer money, and we've seen SACS continually encourage bad behavior in DeKalb by doing nothing.  Not to put all our problems on SACS, but the Senator's suggestion that an action by SACS can somehow correct years of financial mismanagement is inaccurate to say the least.

I'll take it a step further and say that I don't want SACS ( AdvancED ) to have any involvement in DeKalb.  Why does the State of Georgia continue to outsource school accreditation to this group?  Is it because the State does not really want a true analysis of student achievement.  Why do we need Mark Elgart?What has he (and SACS) done to improve education in DeKalb or anywhere in Georgia?  He is more concerned with school board member behavior than student learning. 

To give credit to the school board, they are now reacting to new projections from the county.  The school system has kept in touch with the tax office in Decatur, keeping tabs on tax collections. They were informed of an even bigger potential deficit and are taking action.

If we want to place blame somewhere, let's start with the State of Georgia.  You do know the State annually audits the DeKalb School System, right?  Obviously these audits were either not performed thoroughly or the corruption and mismanagement of funds was overlooked.  Either way, the State dropped the ball big time, year after year.

Speaking of State problems, did you know over $90 million in DeKalb tax dollars (roughly what we collect in SPLOST funds, the $.01 sales tax) is taken from us and distributed  to other school districts?  It happens under the Equalization Grant.  And guess who receives $ Millions in Equalization Grants?  Did you guess tiny Dade County? No, it is Gwinnett County Schools who milks the system. HB 824 will hopefully 'fix' some of the problems with this wealth distribution program.  The original intent was to help fund small rural districts, but place like Gwinnett abused the program. 

The problem in DeKalb is more than money - it's also student achievement.  So where is SACS on that front?  I think Fran and his colleagues need to strengthen Georgia's Board of Education, and staff it with professionals.  Georgia should kick out the SACS (AdvancED) monster and conduct its own school accreditation - accreditation based on student achievement, not on whatever it is AdancED claims to be important.  A non-profit with high salaries and big pensions is not something to help the children in DeKalb - it seems to many that AdvancEd, as it gobbles up its competition via "mergers") helps no one but AdvancED, its vendors, and its employees. 

Fran, instead of calling SACS, call Nathan Deal and ask him to send you and a few others to Austin, Texas and visit with the Texas Education Agency.

The mission of the Texas Education Agency is to provide leadership, guidance and resources to help schools meet the educational needs of all students.
More from Texas:
Statewide Vision, Mission, and Philosophy

Relevant Statewide Goals and Benchmarks

Priority Goal
To ensure that all students in the public education system acquire the knowledge and skills to be
responsible and independent Texans by:

•   Ensuring students graduate from high school and have the skills necessary to pursue any option
including attending a university, a two-year institution, other post-secondary training, military
or enter the workforce;
•   Ensuring students learn English, math, science and social studies skills at the appropriate
grade level through graduation; and
•   Demonstrating exemplary performance in foundation subjects.

•   High school graduation rate
•   Percentage of graduates earning recommended high school diploma
•   Percentage of graduates earning distinguished achievement diploma
•   Percentage of recent high school graduates enrolled at a Texas college or university
•   Percentage of high school graduates receiving other post-secondary training
•   Percentage of students who demonstrate college and career ready performance on the annual    state assessments
•   Percentage of students who demonstrate satisfactory performance on the annual state assessments
•   Percentage of students earning commended performance on the annual state assessments
•   Percentage of students who attend schools or districts rated as recognized or exemplary
•   Percentage of Texas high school students who need remediation
•   Percentage of eligible juniors and seniors taking Advanced
Placement/International Baccalaureate exams
•   Percentage of students from third grade and above who are able to read at or above grade level
•   Percentage of students from third grade and above who perform at or above grade level in math
•   Number of students served under local governance or choice options (e.g., charter schools,
open-enrollment charters, home-rule districts, intra-district transfers, etc.)
•   Number of teachers certified through alternative programs
•   Number of prekindergarten age students served through Texas School Ready!™ (TSR) program
•   Percentage of Texas population age 25 and older with a high school diploma
•   Percentage of Texas high school students graduating with six hours or more of dual credit
Here are words from SACS

School Improvement Life Cycle

Our goal at AdvancED is to provide guiding principles and effective practices for school improvement that help schools advance the level of education they provide.  Perspectives vary on what the life cycle of school improvement looks like; however, we realize that school improvement is both strategic and operational and essential components must be in place for a school to truly address comprehensive school improvement. A school must be able to collect and analyze data, set goals, plan, implement, and evaluate. The realization that none of these components are independent of each other along with the continuous review and evaluation of activities leading to improved results is what leads to authentic school improvement.
Improvement Lifecycle
Each component of the life cycle contains several activities. To be successful, a school must commit to a disciplined process for tackling the various activities that define continuous improvement.  This includes assigning staff to accomplish the tasks, establishing timelines, and allocating equitable resources.

Whatever process a school employs for its continuous improvement cycle, it’s important that the whole school is engaged in the discussion and is accountable for the results. School improvement isn’t the sole responsibility of the principal or the School Improvement Team. It is an initiative and a process that is owned by everyone involved in the life of the school.

More from SACS

Why Does Accreditation Matter?

Accreditation is designed to help educational institutions boost their ongoing performance efforts for the benefit of their students.  AdvancED insists on a relentless pursuit of excellence – for itself and for the institutions it accredits. This ethic of excellence ensures that institutions will find rich benefits from accreditation and that parents can confidently make informed decisions about their children’s education, knowing their child’s school is accredited. Accreditation matters because our students deserve the highest level of educational excellence possible.
Educational institutions that engage in AdvancED Accreditation will:
  • Unite with a global network committed to standards of educational excellence.
  • Earn the distinction of quality through the recognized seal of AdvancED accreditation.
  • Experience a unified, clear, and powerful accreditation process with a scalable and sustainable evaluation of education  quality.
  • Receive external and objective validation of the areas in which they’re doing well, and the areas for continuous improvement.
  • Benefit from AdvancED research that shapes educational policy and improves learning practices.
  • Experience a state-of-the-art web-based accreditation system that is continuously being upgraded and improved.
  • Hear the best available ideas and thinking on education practices and trends through innovative products, educational  technologies, and the collective knowledge of peers.
  • Benefit from shared expertise and powerful professional learning through local and global workshops, training,  conferences, and personalized service.
Students and their parents will:
  • Experience ease in transferring credits from one school to  another.
  • Gain greater access to federal loans, scholarships,  postsecondary education and military programs that require  students attend an accredited institution.
  • Benefit from their institution or educational system’s commitment to raising student performance and accountability.

 See the difference?  The Texas model is goal oriented - student achievement is what matters most.  Texas is not interested in a "global network"and hearing about "available ideas and thinking on education practices".  Texas wants results in student achievement.  I'm not sure what SACS wants, besides money, power and the Improvement Life Cycle. 

Back to DeKalb.  First, let Fernbank Science Center revert back to the Fernbank Museum.  Those of you in the Fernbank area can then donate your discretionary funds to the one and only Fernbank and control it, officially.

Next the district needs to eliminate all transportation except to those attending their home school.  Also, perhaps DeKalb could charge a $100 fee for EVERY student who needs to ride a DeKalb bus to school.

Our Superintendent already made position re-classifications across the system, narrowing job classifications down to 17.  That saved some money.

The notion that the school board can simply cut salaries across the entire system is not something that can legally be done.  There are State rules in place regarding minimum salaries.  You can't just reduce every one's pay by 20%.  It sounds easy, but you can't do that. The Georgia Dept. of Education dictates minimum teacher pay based on years of service and their earned degree(s).

Teacher pay is the next-to-last place I'd go to cut pay (tax increase is last).  The teachers are this army's foot soldiers, and we need the best teachers we can get.  Continue to cut pay and DeKalb will not attract the best teachers, and we'll lose the good ones we still have teaching our kids.  The district needs to sell off unused properties, eliminate more positions at the central office, and eliminate 'protected' programs like Fernbank and others.